Peter Stöger and Borussia Dortmund buy themselves precious time | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.12.2017
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Peter Stöger and Borussia Dortmund buy themselves precious time

What a difference a week makes. Both Peter Stöger and Borussia Dortmund were at a low ebb seven days ago, but successive wins mean things are looking up for coach and club. Some underlying problems still remain though.

Last Saturday, Peter Stöger was a man with a dwindling reputation and without either a job or a Bundesliga win. This Saturday, he's a man with two wins on the bounce, a job at one of Europe's biggest clubs and a team in third position.

Of course, it's likely that not all of this will last. Bayern Munich await in the German Cup on Wednesday; the man in the opposing dugout on Saturday, Julian Nagelsmann, is rumored to be in line to take over come the end of the season; and both RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen can overtake Dortmund on Sunday.

But that won't worry Stöger, who is already looking to the future: "We'll have a really good team in the spring," he said after Dortmund's 2-1 comeback win over Hoffenheim.

Defense still a concern

As the Dortmund boss admitted, this win had more than a shade of fortune. While they looked less vulnerable than under Peter Bosz, both Mark Uth's opener and a narrow offside call that denied Hoffenheim a great chance for a second shortly after, demonstrated that their defensive weakness is still a potentially devastating thorn in their side.

That's a longstanding issue that will take time to change. But time, at least in the short term, is something Stöger and Dortmund have allowed themselves.

After the trip to Munich, for which Dortmund are enough of an underdog to not be too disheartened by anything but a comprehensive loss, Stöger and his new charges have almost a month of rest and training to regroup. 

Saturday's matchwinner Christian Pulisic said that Stöger has already made solidity a priority. "[We've been working on] our defensive stability, and staying compact as a group. Defense first," he said after the match.

Stöger's Cologne side were expertly drilled last year but an otherwise unremarkable group were lifted by the goals of Anthony Modeste, whose departure pre-season was the crucial factor in their woeful showing this time around.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores against Hoffenheim (Getty Images/Bongarts/L. Baron)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the consistent goalscorer Stöger's Cologne lacked this season

But his new side have a much greater array of attacking weapons. Pulisic has looked tired of late but took his goal wonderfully, Shinji Kagawa has already improved noticably, Andriy Yarmelonko isn't so far from the heights of the start of the season and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang guarantees goals. That's without even mentioning the returning Marco Reus and Mario Götze.

Chasing pack struggle for consistency

That collection of talents is proof that, should they perform to their potential, Dortmund are easily one of Germany's top three sides. Bayern are head and shoulders above the rest but currently no other team in the league is setting a pace that would have qualified them for the Champions League last season. All of the chasing pack have gone through sticky patches in the first half of the season.

That inconsistency allows Stöger to work towards that goal of a good side by spring without too much pressure from the league table. Saturday's win also relieves some of the pressure that a Nagelsmann victory would have placed on the Austrian with the short term contract.

The winter break may be approaching but, for now at least, the sun is shining bright on Stöger and Dortmund. 

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